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You can learn a lot about a culture by watching TV. Flick through the channels when you ar next in Japan. It seems that at least one channel which be showing you how to make a delicous seafood dish and another will be showing you a wonderful new place to eat. All will be accompanied by women screaming おいしい!! (oishii, which means delicious), the men looking thoughtful and pronouncing that the dish is うまい(umai, also means delicious but is a word more often used by men). Within a few seconds you have learnt two useful words and the context in which they are used. Everyone loves food. You may have an image of Japanese food as being sophisticated seasonal dishes served on tiny plates. This is the food served in a Japanese restaurant called a 料亭, ryotei. Most of us will be unable to ever eat at such a place. You generally have to be invited by a regular customer. Sadly, no one has ever invited me. But let me tell you about some of the restaurants near our offi ce. We have an eel restaurant where you can see three generations of the family working together. Grilled eel is thought to help you fi ght the summer heat so people are lining up outside on a summers day. A few doors away is a sushi restaurant where even if you only go once a year the chef will remember your likes and dislikes. Around the corner is the steak restaurant. He takes the best meat and marinates it so that it just melts in your mouth. But you have to eat it in silence if you want to avoid his odd stare. Even the 外国人, gaijin, foreigners run some great places. We have a French bistro with all of the clamour of the left bank. And a Turkish restaurant run by a man who came to spend a year in Japan twenty years ago. One wife, two children later and he is still here. To fi nish up we have a bar, open until 5am, where you can complain about the day while puffi ng on a cigar. Try new restaurants. Talk to the waiters about what you are eating. Ask 2 3 the chef where he learnt to cook. Bars and restaurants are one of the best places to make and develop friendships - invite your colleagues to your local places. Get out there and interact with your neighborhood. Take this book with you. Study it, but better still, use it. If you can speak the language of food in this book you will enjoy your time in Japan even more.

Craig Dibble

Setsuko Matsumoto

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